Trees evolved 100 million years after the first land plants began to emerge from their oceanic origins. Neither animals nor plants could have evolved were it not for the protection and nurturing of the ocean. Trees, with their large and thick roots, helped break up the rocky crust of Earth’s surface to create the soil that would allow the development of new plant species, including other trees.

It is important to understand that what makes trees unique from all other plants is they all have wood. Wood is a much tougher, thicker and reinforced fiber necessary for trees to hold themselves up under the pressure of their weight. As plants began to evolve and diversify, this fortification was necessary in order for them to branch out into much larger and heavier plants. As such, the evolution of wood is synonymous with the evolution of trees.

The earliest known modern tree is the ARCHAEOPTERIS, a tree that looked similar to a Christmas tree with buds, reinforced branch joints and wood similar to today’s timber. Its branches and leaves resembled a fern. It covered most parts of the Earth creating the first forests.

tree

Today there are approximately 100,000 known species of trees that exist throughout the world, according to World Resources Institute, this does include tropical forest trees.  A worldwide study by the Center for International Forestry Research1 lead by Professor Ferry Silk concludes that there are between 40,000 – 53,000 species of tropical forest trees.

Tree Facts:

  • Trees produce natural anti-freeze chemicals which can keep them from freezing in temperatures up to -40 degrees Fahrenheit in some species.
  • Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30%.
  • An average tree absorbs ten pounds of pollutants from the air each year, including four pounds of ozone and three pounds of particulates. “Particulate” is a general term meaning a tiny solid or liquid particle or piece of matter. It usually refers to particles in the air (airborne particulates).
  • The coniferous Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is the tallest free species on the earth.
  • Great Basin Bristlecone pine (Pinus Longaeva) is the longest living tree species on the earth. (Through tree-ring cross-referencing they have been shown to be more than five millennia).
  • More than half the U.S. drinking water originates in forests.3
  • A square kilometer of forest can house more than 1,000 species of wildlife.3
  • One mater tree absorbs carbon dioxide at a rate of 58 pounds per year. 3
  • By every 30 meters of trees, noise pollution is reduced up to 50%. 3

 

Take a moment to see where the forests are around you.  This map from the USDA Forest Service will give you a good idea.

fores_land_proportional

We know how important trees are to world health on all levels.  Forests are essential to the health of ecosystems; many key functions include climate regulation, cycling and distribution of nutrients and the provision of raw materials and resources.  In addition, trees cleanse the air, provide oxygen, help the soil retain water, shield animals and other plants from the sun and other elements as well as provide an essential habitat for animals and plants. There are more than 130,000 miles of hiking trails in the U.S open to the public through the U.S. Forest Service.3

Forests provide a staggering range of products which is why forest management is vital to our future.  Good forest management supports both any community and organization needs while protecting the sustainability of forests with their goods and services.

Our tropical forests are in crisis mode.  According to Rachel Petersen, Worlds Resources Institute2, the world lost more than 45 million acres of tree cover (twice the size of Portugal) in 2014. Tropical countries made up more than half of that total at 25 million acres and that number is accelerating.

It is not only trees that are in critical condition.  We invite you to read AGENTS of MASS DESTRUCTION ARE EVERYWHERE ON EARTH CAUSING EXTINCTIONS CRISIS

 

1 http://www.cifor.org/library/5637/an-estimate-of-the-number-of-tropical-tree-species/

2 http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/09/satellites-uncover-5-surprising-hotspots-tree-cover-loss

3. http://www.americanforests.org/explore-forests/forest-facts/